Mysteries of the Kingdom

            in awe of scripture, viewing it through the lens of the kingship of Jesus



Dante and Virgile by William Bouguereau

LOSING MY SALVATION

    A friend recently asked whether Christians can lose their salvation. Some churches had told my friend "saved" Christians can still go to hell. Other churches said once we get saved, we are safe from hell. My friend then found scriptures which seemed to say both things and asked what I believed. I believe our modern "getting saved" idea poorly reflects Scripture.

The Modern Problem

    Many Christians today share a tragically incomplete view of “getting saved.” As Western consumers, we tend to read the Bible in terms of our personal fortunes, seeing the greatest problem as that possibility of God being mad at us, thereby endangering our future. We tend to focus on being “saved” from God’s anger for our personal safety. With our safety in hand, we then debate about whether we can return to His anger (risking again our personal fortunes) or are always protected from His anger, therefore personally safe with a personally bright future.
    Instead, I believe the holy writings of old focus not on our personal gain, but on God’s glory. He is worthy of worship. He is pleasant to think upon. He is worthy to be obeyed. He is greatly to be enjoyed. Being with God is what it really means to be “alive.”


Ancient Problems
    But our species foolishly turned against God. Adam chose to rebel, thinking God was not worth obeying; God (at least for a moment) was not enjoyable; God was not so great. In that moment, Adam lost the most important part of what it meant to be “alive.” All of us who descended from Adam therefore misunderstand God and miss out on the best aspects of being truly “alive.”
    Problem #1: We lack alive-ness.

    When Adam rebelled, he did so in response to a fallen angel. God had placed Adam in charge of the world, subduing animals and taming wild plants (Gen 1:28; 2:15,20). As the king of earth, Adam yielded to the authority of an enemy of God, transferring the authority of this world to him. The Bible calls a demon “the ruler of the world” and “the god of this age,” (e.g. John 12:31).
    Problem #2: We have an evil ruler.

    Finally, when Adam rebelled, he cast mud on God. He insulted the glorious one.
    Problem #3: God is blasphemed in our words and deeds.


Solving 3 Problems
    When God responded to humans in Genesis chapter 3, He did not say He was mad. He did not warn Adam about hell. God responded like a broken hearted parent, explaining the consequences of what His children had done. Surely God was mad at them (as the book of Romans describes), but scripture does not begin with such a focus. When God responded to His enemy, the new ruler of earth, God promised to destroy him and to use a human to do so. Specifically, God promised to crush His enemy’s head. God's destructive threat was not primarily a promise about our safety from God’s anger, but a promise to resolve the three problems listed above.
    When God gave His Son, many of us understand His gift only as that of the Lamb who rescues us from sin's eternal consequences. When God gave His Son, He gave Him not only as Lamb, but also as the Lion who would do three things:
  • Return us to truly being “alive,” which is being in the presence of God (John 17:3)
  • Remove from us the authority of the evil one (John 12:31, Romans 5:12-21)
  • Restore God’s good reputation (Ephesians 3:10)

The Anointed Gift

    God sent His Son as the “Christ” which is sadly not translated in most Bibles. "Christ" means “Anointed” which is pronounced “Messiah” in the Jewish language. Psalm 2 defines the "Anointed" as the King of all the earth and the begotten Son of God.
    When God gave us His Son, He gave us a new King who could bring us into true life, free us from the evil one, and glorify God. Scripture says that if I believe God's Son is King (Jn 20:31; Rm 10:9), then I have the true life of God’s presence (John 17:3), and that I am liberated from the evil one (Colossians 1:13), and that I understand better how glorious God is.
    While many modern Christians debate endlessly about whether God can get mad at Christians and send them to hell, the Scriptures are primarily concerned with:
  1. Helping us obey the new King (Mat 28:19)
  2. Teaching us about the presence of God (Jn 17:3)
  3. Helping us live out the fact that the evil one no longer rules us (Rom 5:12-21)
  4. Helping us exhibit how glorious God is. (Eph 3:10)

Role of "The Church"

    A healthy "church" is a gathering of people which does those four things. Some church organizations seem overly focused instead on who is going to heaven and who is not. To readers who are focused on the above four things, Scripture promises that no one can snatch us out of God’s hands. To readers who claim the name of Jesus but flippantly live as if He were not their King, the Bible warns of the danger of God’s wrath. That (as I explained to my friend) is why the Bible tells us we are safe and tells us we are in danger.
    My focus should not be "getting saved" from personal danger. My focus should be getting saved from blaspheming God by my words and deeds. Can I get unsaved from blaspheming God? Yes, by blaspheming Him in word or deed.
    My focus should not be "getting saved" from personal danger. My focus should be getting saved from obeying the evil one. Can I get unsaved from obeying the evil one? Yes, by obeying the evil one.
    My focus should not be "getting saved" from personal danger. My focus should be getting saved from failing to realize the presence of God. Can I get unsaved from realizing the presence of God? Yes, by failing to realize the presence of God. These are the salvations which I do not want to lose, and I am in constant danger of getting unsaved in all three categories at all times. I do not live worrying about the negatives of these three categories; I primarily live pursing the positives of these categories
    I do not believe our safety or danger is the focus of the Bible.
Rather, Scripture focuses on God’s glory. He is worthy of worship. He is pleasant to think upon. He is worthy to be obeyed. He is greatly to be enjoyed. Being with God is what it really means to be “alive," and those who focus on the things of God become less and less concerned with whether they can lose their personal safety.


                                         
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"Losing My Salvation" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net on January 10th, 2015. All rights are reserved.